Presented by Infineon

Infineon’s Silicon Valley Innovation Center’s (SVIC) collaboration model provides young partner companies with quick access to technical expertise, supporting anything from joint R&D for IP development to guidance on designing products with manufacturability in mind.  

It’s been a little more than 50 years since Arthur Rock began funding and guiding a small company called Intel — and then formalized the practice of investing in technology companies and shepherding them to success. Venture capital (VC) is now such a successful industry it might be easy to forget its development was a financial innovation, one that helped establish Silicon Valley as the world’s hub of high technology. 

Fifty years later, the phrase “venture capital” is thought of as being synonymous with “financial investment, ” but VC wasn’t so narrowly defined at its inception. Rock notably did not just invest in Intel, Apple, Teledyne and more; he collaborated with those companies’ founders, advising them how to manage technological innovation and business growth. For Rock, knowledge was an intrinsic part of venture capital.

These days any startup seeking funding has several options. They include dedicated venture capital firms, the investment arms of major corporation, and financial markets, such as Wall Street.

There are now plenty of places to turn to for financing, but not a lot of places a startup can turn to for knowledge. However, Infineon’s standalone R&D center, the Silicon Valley Innovation Center (SVIC), is one of the very few organizations set up to provide knowledge venture capital.  

At SVIC, we’re looking for companies that have a vision for a product. Where there’s a vision, there are also usually challenges to overcome. These challenges start with technology development and product design. Manufacturing and commercializing a product represent hurdles too.

Tech knowledge and business knowledge

Infineon is one of the most well-established semiconductor companies in the world, with one of the most diverse product portfolios in the business, software development expertise and impeccable design and manufacturing credentials. Collaborating with Infineon’s SVIC, startups can tap into that knowledge base and realize their visions. 

Infineon is an innovator in the fundamental building blocks of the internet of things: sensors, power devices, security technology, RF communications devices, memory ICs and much more. SVIC is, at heart, a R&D operation, and technology is our bread-and-butter. We can provide guidance on how to combine these building blocks in differentiated, high-performance systems.

Naturally, startups can collaborate with us on the conceptualization and design of their innovations, but beyond our expertise with technology, Infineon has a long history of business success along with broad and deep experience with a vast number of applications. Drawing on that expertise, SVIC can also support startups with guidance on building marketing plans and on product commercialization.

To get started, we talk to the companies who want to collaborate with us to get a full understanding of their capabilities and their goals. We talk to our customers, and we can talk to their customers. Where appropriate, SVIC can help with introductions to the participants in entire market ecosystems, including potential customers — and given our size, scale, and user communities, sometimes that’s us.

When we engage with a startup, Infineon SVIC can help:

  • Co-develop or refine a technology
  • Optimize our building blocks to enable new use cases
  • Provide customer and partner references
  • Drive customer access

In short, Infineon’s SVIC can offer many kinds of knowledge venture capital to a startup preparing to take its next step, whatever that step might be.

And to be clear — when we say, “startups,” we’re using that word as a shorthand. We know that there are young companies past the startup stage and even new operations at established companies that could prosper with an infusion of knowledge capital and optimized building blocks.

What’s in it for us?

Identifying a new application or market is one thing; helping to create one is an even better opportunity. Perhaps the companies we collaborate with will become customers. If not, perhaps their customers might become Infineon customers.

Infineon’s SVIC wants to help identify market opportunities, and if we can help guide new applications to successful implementation, and help establish new markets, then everyone involved benefits. We refer to the approach of identifying new opportunities, technological collaboration, and go-to-market guidance as “Capture + Shape + Create.”

Current focus areas include, but are not limited to, the internet of things (IoT), health and health services, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and electronic mobility.  

Case study

One young company we are currently working with is Rainforest Connection. They started out developing a “guardian” product optimized to listen for illegal logging in rainforests. By monitoring the forests, they could listen for chainsaws and alert local authorities. Together, we further explored whether the guardian system solution could be upgraded to also monitor forest health. As a result, Infineon is now working with Rainforest Connection to create new building blocks to achieve this task. Specifically, we are developing new gas sensors for them to test and deploy in the rainforests of Brazil.  Through this collaboration, we hope to enable a new class of environmental protection that was not possible using older technologies.

If you’re at an early-stage company with a similarly visionary product to develop and market, and are looking for knowledge venture capital or building block support to help you achieve your goals, we invite you to visit our website here.

Adrian Mikolajczak is Head, SVIC and Applied Systems Research, IoT, Sensors, and Systems at Infineon Technologies.

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